Cracking the content code with Mark Schaefer

Untitled design

I’m an unabashed fan of Mark Schaefer and how he goes about his business.

If you haven’t heard of Mark, he is a globally-recognised author, speaker, educator, podcaster and business consultant who blogs at {grow} – one of the top marketing blogs in the world. He’s the author of five best-selling books, including Social Media Explained, The Tao of Twitter and Return on Influence and has been a keynote speaker at major events all over the world including SXSW, Marketing Summit Tokyo, and the Institute for International and European Affairs. His consulting clients include Dell, Adidas, and the US Air Force.

Bona fide thought leader

In a world where people are quick to label themselves experts and gurus, Mark is a bona fide thought leader, always willing to provide well-considered perspectives and lead debate on trends and issues pertaining to the digitally-fuelled social media and content marketing landscape.

But most importantly, in my eyes anyway, Mark takes a very pragmatic but passionate view of what it takes to be an effective marketer today.

Unlike a lot of marketers who see people merely as ‘numbers’ – leads to be nurtured and converted – Mark leads with his heart; he sees the business benefits of building relationships and growing a community of fans, followers and advocates, or what he calls in his new book The Content Code, the ‘Alpha Audience’ – which he describes as an actionable audience, an elite group of people who express their advocacy and influence others by sharing your content.

Of course, this is not to say Mark isn’t interested in data and analytics and measurement and customer conversion, but he does take a holistic approach to marketing and understands better than most what’s required by brands wanting to adapt to today’s ever-evolving new media landscape.

As he writes in his book Social Media Explained:

In an always-on, real-time, global world of business communications, the priority is on human interaction that leads to connections. Connections lead to awareness. Awareness leads to trust. Trust is the ultimate catalyst to business benefits, as it has always been.”

Amen to that!

Cracking The Content Code: Become a BADASS

The-Content-Code-In his new book The Content Code, Mark outlines six strategies to ignite your content (and therefore your marketing and your business).

Tapping into the memorable acronym BADASS, these are:

  • Brand development
  • Audience and influencers
  • Distribution, advertising, promotion and SEOa
  • Authority
  • Shareability embedded into each piece of content
  • Social proof and social signals

With the discipline of content marketing just starting to hit its straps, the challenge now and into the future will be standing out and resonating with our audiences.

Mark writes there are many forecasts focusing on the explosion in volume of free online content, but most centre around “…a 500 per cent estimated increase in the amount of information on the web between 2015 and 2020.”

Another sobering fact highlighted in the book is that by 2011, Americans were consuming more than eight hours of content per day, according to Nielsen and other sources; meanwhile, because of the ubiquity of connected mobile devices, today adults in the western world consume content an average of 10 hours a day!

With this impending ‘content shock’ as a backdrop, what can we do about it? This is why Mark wrote The Content Code, to address this massive challenge of information density. He told me in an interview for my podcast Reputation Revolution (embedded below): “What do you do? What is the answer? And I started collecting ideas and really became obsessed with this … how do we evolve, how do we change … ?”

It all comes down to igniting your online content.

Mark says publishing amazing content “simply earns a seat at the table today”.

The real power, he writes, only comes to those who can create content that connects, engages and moves through the network through social sharing.

He gives the statistic, sourced from research firm eMarketer, that 83 per cent of brand marketers view social sharing as the primary benefit of social media, because 70 per cent of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase based on a friend’s social media updates.

“But as the eMarketer study shows, brand power isn’t coming through content. It’s coming from content transmitted by our trusted friends. Content marketing may start with writing, but the money is made by IGNITING,” Mark writes.

Let that thought stew inside your brain for a moment. It’s a powerful proposition!

The Content Code contains lots of ideas and stories and examples, too many to go into here. But the element of the book I resonated with the most was around building an ALPHA AUDIENCE – “an elite and engaged tribe at the top of the social sharing food chain, the bedrock of your business”. I’ve written and spoken a lot about the power of building one’s ‘Village of Support’, a similar concept, so it’s probably natural I gravitated towards this idea, but it’s a powerful one and worth getting the book just to dig into it a bit further.

Mark says that according to Google, the most loyal members of your audience are more than 250 per cent likely to transmit your content.

And I’ll leave you with this gem from the book:

“Using content as a connection point in the digital world provides an unparalleled, historic opportunity to re-connect with customers and find your Alpha Audience.”

I couldn’t agree more!

If you’re a PR or marketing professional, entrepreneur or you a run a personal brand-based business – if you’ve already started your content marketing journey or are about to embark down that path – I urge you to check out The Content Code as a matter of priority. It’s relevant, pragmatic, sensible and enlightening, and while it doesn’t sugar-coat the challenges we face as marketers and business owners, it does provide countless actionable tips and ideas that wilkl at least help us stay ahead of the game.

Want more Mark Schaefer? Check out this Reputation Revolution interview!

In this episode of the Reputation Revolution, Mark chats to me about his own personal brand journey from classically-trained B2B marketer to one of the world’s most respected voices on social media; he also discusses the importance of building ‘shareability’ into your online content, the subject of his latest book The Content Code.


If you like what you hear on the Reputation Revolution podcast, don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes and never miss an episode. And if you want to leave a review on iTunes, that would be pretty awesome too!

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

2 thoughts on “Cracking the content code with Mark Schaefer”

  1. I am embarrassed to say I hadn’t heard of Mark until reading this article, but will definitely be checking out more of his stuff!

    Thanks for the great article Trevor – looking forward to listening to the interview.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Damien – no need to be embarrassed, it feels like I’m stumbling upon someone new every day who is doing great things when it comes to writing books, blogging, podcasting etc. There’s so much great talent out there – I’m sure you’ll enjoy what Mark has to offer, he’s one of the good guys!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *